By Larry Snyder
Cheswick Pa. – Matt Conway (20-2-0, 9 KOs) seeks to add the International Boxing Association World Super Featherweight Title Saturday, January 15, when he faces Philadelphia’s Avery Sparrow (10-3-0, 3 KO’s). It is the 12-round main event of promoter Derek Gionta’s “Winter Mayhem” boxing card at the Pittsburgh Shrine Center.
Conway, 26, collected the vacant IBA Intercontinental Super Featherweight title in June 2021 against Jonathan Perez (38-30-0, 30 KOs), who failed to continue after the fourth round at the Washington County Fairgrounds. The Steel City’s “Sweet Child” picked up a second-round technical knockout of Rodolfo Puente (20-9-2, 16 KOs) in September 2021 at the Murrysville SportsZone. Both competitions were main events put together by matchmaker Brian Dillon for Gionta Management.
The 28-year-old Sparrow wants to snap a two-fight losing streak. He lost by unanimous decision in June 2020 to Abraham Nova (20-0-0, 14 KO’s) at the MGM Grand, Las Vegas. His subsequent defeat was in January 2021 by TKO in the seventh round when he battled Rolando Romero (14-0-0, 12 KO’s) at the Mohegan Sun Casino, Connecticut. Six of his matchups have gone the distance.
Gionta spoke about the upcoming contests with worldboxingnews.net, “We have a great, action-packed show lined up here to start the new year. Matt Conway versus Avery Sparrow is a TV-caliber fight. Each fight on the undercard is very intriguing as well. Expect fireworks!”
Lightweight Ryizeemmion Ford (6-1-0, 4 KO’s) from Alliance, OH, is in the six-round co-feature when he steps through the ropes to face Lonnie Jackson Jr. (5-2-2, 2 KO’s) of Philadelphia. Ford, 28, needed just 2:01 of the first to get the TKO against Mexico’s Carlos Jimenez (1-4-1) back in September 2021 at the Murrysville SportsZone. Gionta was quick to point out to me, “Ford is a co-main or main event fighter right now. Despite being over 2 hours away from Pittsburgh, he brings an exciting fan base with him each time. We are excited about his future.”
Jackson is determined to notch his sixth triumph to begin the new year. He dropped a unanimous decision (59-53, 58-52, 59-51) to Wesley Ferrer (16-1-1, 8 KO’s) in September 2021 at the Showboat Hotel, Atlantic City.
A six-round super middleweight bout could be the most intriguing for many. Pittsburgh’s Eric Lomax (4-0-0, 3 KO’s) takes on Samuel Wildenhaus (4-1-0, 1 KO) from Kettering, OH. I first saw the 31-year-old Lomax on the Murrysville Madness card, and he won by TKO at 2:51 of the fourth over Jacob Ibaika Martin (1-1-0, 0 KO). After his convincing victory, I asked Gionta about this charismatic pugilist, “He is a very respectful, hard-working young man and fights with a nice combination of skill and will.”
Wildenhaus, 23, came away with a split decision win (37-39, 39-37, 39-37) against Matt Wright (4-2-0, 2 KO’s) in August 2021 at Mylan Park Morgantown, WV. Three of his five meetings went the total distance.
When the topic of the pandemic came up, he told Patrick Varine of triblive.com, “We ran three shows in 2021 when things were a little bit more difficult with covid, and it went very well. Fighters and cornermen are tested before the fights. No one involved in any of the past three cards tested positive following the events. Fans have the option to wear a mask, so we are comfortable with things.”
REMAINING WM LINEUP:
Super Featherweight (4 Rounds): Milton Jorge Andrade Jeremias (2-0-0, 1 KO) Porto, Portugal Vs. David Boria (0-4-0) Ashtabula, OH
Super Featherweight (4 Rounds): Alexander Castellano (5-1-0, 2 KO’s) Buffalo, NY Vs. Shawn Rall (1-4-0, 1 KO) Cleveland, OH
Heavyweight (4 Rounds): Anthony Hollaway (3-2-2, 3 KO’s) Peoria, IL Vs. Jose Nunez (0-2-0) Reading, PA
CORNER NOTES: Shrine Center doors open for fans at 6:00 p.m. with the first bell at 7:00 p.m. If you cannot get to the event, you can view it as a paid online event for 19.99 on Facebook Live from Pittsburgh’s Cut ‘N’ Run Productions.
The Pennsylvania State Athletic Commission sanctions the matches, and the participants in any bout are subject to change.
Looking Back On YouTube And Shootin Ur Shot – Gionta Management Presents: Murrysville Madness (Clean Audio)